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Panthers hire trio of coaches

CHARLOTTE - Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera added three coaches to his staff Monday, including a pair that will be pivotal in the passing game.

Fred Graves, who coached Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith in college, has been named wide receivers coach. Pete Hoener, who recently coached San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis to a record-setting season, has been hired to coach the tight ends.

"We are very pleased to have Fred and Pete join our staff," Rivera said. "They bring an extensive coaching background and have developed a number of young receivers in the NFL. They are both highly regarded and will make a strong contribution to our offense."

Earlier Monday, the Panthers announced the hiring of Eric Washington, who helped the Chicago Bears rank as a top-10 defense this past season, as defensive line coach.


Graves, 60, has spent the last 10 seasons as a wide receivers coach in the NFL, the last four with the Tennessee Titans. Before that, he spent 19 seasons at the University of Utah, including 15 seasons coaching the wide receivers.

Graves' last season with the Utes, where he played halfback, also was Smith's last season with Utah before both headed to the NFL.

Graves got his NFL start with the Buffalo Bills from 2001-03, helping Eric Moulds became the first receiver in franchise history with a 100-catch season. He then spent a season with the Cleveland Browns and a season with the Detroit Lions before heading to Tennessee, where he helped develop talented young receiver Kenny Britt, who had 225 receiving yards in a game last season.

In addition to coaching wide receivers on the college level, Graves was Utah's offensive coordinator from 1995-97.


Hoener, 56, spent the last six seasons as tight ends coach for the 49ers. In 2009, Davis caught 13 touchdown passes for the 49ers, tying the NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end in a season. He also tied for the NFL lead in receiving touchdowns, the first tight end to accomplish that in the Super Bowl era.

Prior to his time in San Francisco, Hoener coached the Chicago Bears' offensive line in 2004, the same year that Rivera began a three-year stint as Bears defensive coordinator.

In addition to 12 seasons of NFL experience, Hoener has 25 years of coaching experience in the college ranks, including time as offensive coordinator at Texas Christian, Iowa State and Indiana State. The former Bradley football player broke into coaching at Missouri in 1975.

Hoener made his debut as NFL coach with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 but returned to the college game after two seasons before jumping back to the pros in 2001 with the Arizona Cardinals.


Washington, 41, helped the 2010 Bears rank fourth in the NFL in scoring defense (17.9 points per game) and ninth in total defense (314.3 yards per game). They also ranked No. 2 in rushing defense (90.1 yards per game).

It was Washington's first year as defensive line coach following two seasons as an assistant line coach. Before his time with the Bears, Washington coached Northwestern's defensive line from 2004-07 and spent three seasons at Ohio University in the same capacity prior to that.

"Eric brings youth and experience to our staff and is a good fit to work with our young defensive line," Rivera said. "He has coached on all levels of football, and we are pleased to have him on our staff."

Washington, who played for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling State, got his start in college coaching as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M in 1997.

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